Sunday, January 11, 2009

Time Warp :
Part II - The Modern Marvel Calendars

Time is fluid, relative, illusory... fleeting. It passes quickly (unless we watch the clock, and then it slows to a near stand-still), and yet with the aid of photos and memories, it can be somewhat held at bay. However, no matter what we may try, we can not alter or reverse it's flow.

That is only true for we mere mortals. To Doctor Strange, time is but a minor obstacle...

above: Doctor Strange Master of the Mystic Arts # 51
below: Doctor Strange Master of the Mystic Arts # 50
by Steve Englehart / Marshall Rogers

Mordo may elude you longer still, Stephen Strange, for your trip back in time will not reveal his location to us... however it will reveal the past 20 years - as shown in Marvel Calendars of the "Modern" age.

This is the second entry in a series (of three) posts about the old MARVEL CALENDARS!
(Part I, which
dealt with what I term the "CLASSIC" calendar series can be seen - HERE)

This segment (Part II) deals with what I term the "MODERN" calendar series; those commercially produced 1980's - 2000's era calendars. 

(see yellow headers below)

These calendars were not produced in-house by Marvel (unlike the "Classics"). Instead, they were manufactured by various publishing houses who had negotiated the licensing rights.

(Update Note [01-01-2012]: Marvel has, over the past few years been producing free promotional calendars in-house. Basically, comic-book sized with ads for upcoming stories and events and 12 months worth of featured artwork from those projects. One of them is featured in an update below.)

Sadly, (as is usually the case) the corporate touch withered the charming, fun and "familial" feeling that used to be a hallmark of the old-style Marvel calendars.

Unlike the older releases, these modern publications had no (or very few) new, original artworks produced specifically for them. Instead, they simply recycled old art from the comics.

Another lost element was the information filled daily boxes. These modern-era calendars, almost always, have mere numbered grids. Plain. Simple. Utilitarian.

However, irregardless of their faults, these were/are still official Marvel products, and as such, fell/fall into my collection's purview.

Here, we'll take a look at the calendars that had entries for Doctor Strange, Man-Thing and a select few other "6-Dimensions" characters. Some years, a calendar may have been released, but if there was no Doctor Strange (or Man-Thing) entry, I wasn't interested. This is why there are some gaps between some entries.

Alright. Enough preamble....

After the last official "Classic" calendar in 01981, there was a period with no Marvel licensed calendars for several years.

Eventually, that came to an end.
In 01986, Marvel produced their last attempt at a self-produced calendar, to commemorate their 25th Anniversary
(since Fantastic Four # 1) but it was also a far cry from their past works, instead being very much like those that would follow suit - with reused artwork and basic formatting.
However, Dr. Strange was not a part of that calendar, and as such, is not a part of my collection.

The next entry in the genre was...

01988 Marvel Super-Heroes Calendar
produced by Design Look Inc.

May featured Doctor Strange
This image was taken from a poster by Kevin Nowlan.


Back cover featuring the assorted images used.

As you can see from this pic, the shrink wrap was still on it. However, I opened it up to snap a pic of the Doc page, since I saw the Fantastic Four image and saw that was cropped so badly - cutting off the Human Torch's upper torso and head. So, I assumed that there might be some "deluxe" formatting that was in the calendar, and that the back cover images were mere thumbnails of those much larger images.

Oddly, the images are printed as cropped. So the F.F. page has only the legs of the Torch, and Strange's poster is truncated (at least keeping much of it intact).


After the 01988 calendar, the next one that I can find was for 01993.
Sadly, no Doctor Strange in it, so I passed.

Next up was 01994.
Marvel Super Hero & Super Villain Calendar
published by Harry N. Abrams Inc.
This calendar had a theme of "Heroes and Villains", showcasing some of the biggest battles between a hero and his (or her) Arch foe.


August featured Doctor Strange vs Dormammu.
Art taken from the cover of
Doctor Strange; Sorcerer Supreme #1 by Kevin Nowlan.
*peeve: In the copy text, they misspell his name as "Steven" Strange, instead of "Stephen".


There was a center-fold pull-out poster that had the entire next year (1995) at a glance.
Artwork of the epic "Everyone vs Galactus" issue (# 243) of Fantastic Four by John Byrne.


01995 "Superhero Team" calendar
published by Harry N. Abrams Inc.

A great cover by Arthur Adams which was an obvious rip-off homage to Michael Golden's "Merry Marvel Marching Confusion" print - from 01981.
(as shown here)
I'll be devoting a post to this wondrous poster,
it's history and incarnations at a later date.

Obviously, the theme for this calendar was "superhero TEAMS".
February was the (New) Defenders
Angel, Valkyrie & Gargoyle from New Defenders #133 by Kevin Nowlan.


May featured Black Knight & the Avengers
artwork from Avengers v1 # 357
by Steve Epting (pencils) and Tom Palmer (inks)


October featured Man-Thing, Morbius, Werewolf by Night and Ghost Rider:
The Legion of Monsters!
reproduced cover to Marvel Premier # 28


December was Scarlet Witch & Force Works.
Wonder-Man, Scarlet Witch, Iron Man, Spider-Woman II & U.S. Agent
cover to Force Works # 1 by T.A. Tenney


A year-at-a-glance pull-out poster featuring the cover to Contest of Champions #1
by John Romita Jr.


Back cover - cover art.


Not all calendars came in the same wall-format. Some were being produced as single sheet giant posters, and others, like this one for 1995 were of the desktop "page-a-day" variety.

Produced by Andrews & McMeel

Fun fact: This calendar was researched and written by Jim Krueger - yes, "writer Jim Krueger"... before he really became "writer Jim Krueger".
A basic "page-a-day" style calendar. I can't possibly show all the various Doctor Strange or Man-Thing entries, since I will not be tearing out pages. However, I have had, since 1995, the following two pages - as given to me by a co-worker friend who owned the calendar that year.

artwork reprinting scenes from issues of Doctor Strange.
February 17th (#50 by Marshall Rogers)
December 18th (#46 by Michael Golden)

Obviously, there are more pages to feature Strange and Man-Thing, but these two should be enough to give a taste of the style.


01996 Marvel Team-Up Calendar
published by Harry N. Abrams Inc.
The theme this time around was "team-ups"

March featured Ghost Rider & the X-Men
art from Ghost Rider #27
Jim Lee (pencils) Scott Williams (inks)

April featured Morbius and Spider-Man
Art by Ron Wagner and Mike Witherby
from Morbius # 3


June showcased Dr. Strange and Dr. Doom (and Mephisto)
art from the cover of the softcover edition of the "Triumph & Torment" graphic novel
by Mike Mignola.


Back cover cover gallery


01997 Marvel Universe Calendar
published by Harry N. Abrams Inc.
artwork by John Romita Jr (pencils) John Romita Sr. (inks)

This calendar utilized newer art pieces, which were (also used in a hardcover book released around the same time) dedicated to the various era's and "divisions" of the Marvel Universe.


January is Dr. Strange and the 1960's era heroes.
This piece, by Mike Allred, is awesome.
Human Torch, Silver Surfer, Nick Fury, Spider-Man, Daredevil, Ant-Man,
Sub-Mariner and Angel in the background sky
Captain Mar-Vell, Thing, Iron Man, Dr. Strange (way in the back),
Cyclops, Captain America, Mr. Fantastic, Hulk, Thor, Marvel Girl

*Note, Mr. Fantastic arms form the "number" "'60's" - as in the 1960's era heroes.
(a peeve... Doc is drawn with his old blue cloak, but it's colored red)


May showcased Doctor Strange, Man-Thing and the 1970's era heroes.
art by Sal Buscema & Joe Sinnott
Machine-Man, Dracula, Dr. Strange, Ghost Rider,
Capt. Marvel, Iron Man, Moon Knight, Storm, Deathlok, Adam Warlock
Thing, Wolverine, Hulk, Nightcrawler, Man-Thing


October featured Dr. Strange, Clea, Man-Thing
and the Marvel Horror characters!
art by Gene Colan
(from top to bottom)
Man-Thing, Morbius, Dracula, Son of Satan,
Ghost Rider, Werewolf by Night, Dr. Strange, Clea

Back cover gallery


01997 also saw the release of a Marvel Calendar released by the Hallmark cards company.

Marvel Comics of the Silver Age
This calendar reprinted famous cover art of the "silver age".

As a nice touch, this calendar tried to revive the "hallmarks" of the look and feel of the old "Classic" Marvel Calendars, with the same size dimensions, thick stock and spiral binding.
The spiral, however, now was plastic, and the monthly grids were simple dated panels with no nifty info tidbits.


October reproduced the cover art to Doctor Strange # 169
(my personal favorite cover of all time)
famous cover art by Dan Adkins


02000 Marvel Universe Calendar
published by Universe Publishing
distributed by Andrews McMeel

cover art by Jack "King" Kirby


October featured Doctor Strange, the Dread Dormammu, Clea & Mindless Ones
artwork by Steve Ditko


back cover

02002 Art of Marvel Calendar
produced by Diamond Select
cover art by Alex Ross


June showcased a dazzling array of heroes
(Doctor Strange as well, natch)!
art from the Universe X series by Alex Ross


back cover art gallery

*UPDATED ENTRY - 01-28-2014*
02005 "Characters of Marvel" Desk Calendar

The 2005 “Characters of Marvel” Calendar, a “Day At A Time” edition, has DR STRANGE right on the cover page! (With a portion of the cover to “Sorcerer Supreme # 51 showing.) A good start!

The format of this edition was to have sequential pages/days devoted to a character, before moving on to the next. This has several pages dedicated to the Master Mystic!
(No, I didn't take pics of them all. Maybe I will one day if I have the time.)
It also had pages on several of my 6-Dimensions characters; Scarlet Witch, Ghost Rider, Nick Fury, etc… as well as a plethora of other characters, so… a good calendar!


*UPDATED ENTRY - 01-28-2014*
02007 "Marvel Heroes - Year In A Box" Desk Calendar

The 2007 edition, is a “Marvel Heroes” “Year In A Box” calendar, and was not as kind to Dr. Strange.

It has Doctor Strange featured on ZERO pages! WTF? Well… he’s not featured solo on any pages, but is seen as a small figure in a few group shots, and is mentioned in some write-ups (for "House of M" and such).

Still, Scarlet Witch is featured on a few pages (solo and as a group member) so… that’s ok.
Otherwise, it’s fairly light on my 6-Dimensions characters.

Except… it DOES have MAN-THING as shown on the cover to “Marvel Comics Presents” # 5, so… alright!

*UPDATED ENTRY - 01-07-2011*
(a Borders Books exclusive)

 Cover art by Alex Ross

This is a nifty calendar with pop-up images for each month.
By pop-up, I mean, like children's books... when the page is opened, the artwork has been die-cut and assembled in such a way that it unfolds and literally is raised up off the surface of the page... it "pops" up off the page.

With a glitzy, holofoil cover, reprinting an old painting by Alex Ross (originally done for Wizard magazine cover, then later turned into posters and whatnot) Doctor Strange missed being on the wraparound cover by mere inches.

I shall explain.

The original image, used for Wizard Magazine #42 (March 1995), Dr. Strange was seen at the far right.

click to embiggen
However, when the image was used the the 2008 Calendar cover, first, it was flipped (reversing the direction of the image) and then the very end of it was cut off the back of the cover to make it fit the dimensions of the cover - thus once again showing no respect for Doctor Strange.

I didn't bother taking a pic of the calendar's back cover because of that.

However, Doc DOES make the interior - by the barest of margins.

While he is absent from any of the actual monthly pop-up images, he is seen (barely) in the first page (double-page spread) pop-up that showcases the previous few months of the prior year (2007).

This image, a collage of sorts, utilizing various static pose illustrations for Marvel's licensed works, was also used for a Marvel Universe poster.

Doc is seen Waaaaaaaay in the back.
Can't see him?
See Spider-Man?
Look to Spidey's right (his left) at the Human Torch and Mr. Fantastic.
See the space between their heads?
Follow that space all the way up to the last row of heroes.
That's Doc flying with his arms and cloak outstretched.

The artwork used is the same seen in several licensed articles of that timeframe (2006 - 2008).
You can best see it on this t-shirt that I featured in another old series of posts (that dealt with my ever expanding Dr. Strange apparel collection) - HERE.

For your benefit, I will re-post that image here.

The artwork, by Steve Rude, was among some of the character designs that he had drawn for use with licensed ancillary products.

This pose was used for a few other items, a small representation of which is in a giant Marvel Universe group poster (as mentioned in the Calendar summary), also the Doctor Strange "Battle Dice" figure, as well as the promotional poster for the Marvel Legends "Galactus Series" assortment.

An excellent piece of work (as are ALL of Steve Rude's works) this design seems to be "last year's model" and has seemingly been discontinued from Marvel's licensing, replaced by similarly over-airbrushed samples like the other characters in the calendar /poster image.

*UPDATED ENTRY - 01-01-2012*
Here, I present, the most recent appearances of Doctor Strange in a Marvel Calendar.

# 4 in the Special Edition series
(And a POP-UP Calendar, at that!).

Produced by 'Act Responsibly', a Mead Corporation, this calendar, like the previous one posted here, features pop-up images for each 2-month spread.

Each pop-up showcases a hero and a villain (usually a pairing of a hero and one of his primary foes - or at least a foe who makes some sense to have with that hero), and is in the center of two months worth of date boxes. The date boxes go down the sides of each page's outer edge, which leaves the majority of space for the pop-up art.

The truly screwed up thing is that the heroes shown on the wrap-around cover are not (for the most part) the ones showcased in the inner pop-ups! So, if you're like me, and bought this for one (or more) of your favorite heroes who are on the cover, the odds of that hero being on the inside are slim-to-none.

(click to embiggen)
Left to Right / Top to Bottom:
Ice-Man, Storm, Human Torch, Spider-Man, Doctor Strange, Black Panther, (Arch)Angel
Mr. Fantastic, The Thing, Cyclops, Black Widow, Daredevil, Hulk, Iron Fist
Elektra, Black Cat, Beast, Hawkeye, Wolverine, Invisible Woman

The six 2-month spreads feature the following hero/villain pairings:

January/February : Daredevil / Bullseye
March/April : Spider-Man / Lizard
May/June : Hulk / Abomination
July/August : Wolverine / Sabretooth
September/October : Silver Surfer / Galactus
November/December : Hawkeye / Ultron

Like the cover artwork, all of the inner artwork is computer "airbrushed" art either from published comics or promotional / production art. Fortunately, the airbrush coloring helps make so many differently drawn styles of art work almost seamlessly with a cohesive look. Unfortunately, the coloring is so totally over-rendered that everything looks ridiculously artificial.

The wraparound cover is filled with a diverse assemblage of Marvel superheroes. At first glance, it is hard to fathom the method for selecting the characters represented. However, it would seem that many of these heroes are either in already established film franchises, or like Doctor Strange, are to be in up-coming films.

The selection for the interior spreads makes less sense, as most of these featured pairings are either in old (or especially bad) movies or those who may be part of some future project.

Spider-Man / Lizard is most likely the pairing of the upcoming Spider-man flick.
Ultron is probably going to factor into the Avengers film (of which Hawkeye will be a part).
If there is a new Hulk film, the Abomination is the most likely candidate for baddie.
A Silver Surfer film would be awesome - and if so, a non-cloud version of Galactus would be a must.
And so on...

However, I bought it for Doctor Strange, who is on the cover in a heretofore unseen bit of production artwork. Happily for me, he is dressed in his classic garb, and they even got the overall look of the cloak of levitation correct - with the gold embroidered area covering his shoulders. 

Sadly, he is not showcased anywhere on the inside.
Maybe when his own film comes out in 2013 (?).

*UPDATED ENTRY - 01-01-2012*
The next calendar, also for 2012, also showcases Doctor Strange on the cover.


Artwork by Nick Bradshaw, from the variant cover to Marvel POINT ONE # 1 issue
(I blogged a review of the DEFENDERS story therein - [HERE])

A FREE promo item, (and the first calendar that I will feature in this new "Modern" era to actually be produced in-house by MARVEL,) this calendar showcases images for the upcoming year's publications and events.

Unfortunately, like the previous calendar, this one also does not showcase Dr. Strange in any of its interior pages.
Still, it does have this spread for March that features the Scarlet Witch - one of my '6-Dimensions of Doctor Strange' characters.

Artwork from Avengers vs X-Men # 0 cover by Frank Cho

Also, as can be seen on the 17th, with the little picture of Banshee on St. Patrick's Day, this calendar also is a tiny throwback / homage to those "classic" Marvel calendars of old (as can be seen in this post [HERE]) wherein most of the days had cool little Marvel art within.

Will we have to wait until 2013 for a calendar to showcase Doctor Strange in the interior? *
Not if the Mayan Calendar is to be believed.
(Don't worry. It's not. Maybe. I hope.)

* Nope. While Scarlet Witch was on the cover, Doc was snubbed completely in the Marvel in-house 2013 calendar (as blogged about in an ADDENDUM [HERE]), but there is a sort-of Man-Thing appearance (in an inside-the front-cover ad for the SAVAGE WOLVERINE comic. Manny is on the Wolvie cover.


That brings us up to date on Doc's appearances in Marvel's calendar assortments.
Happily, he was treated MUCH better in years gone by, and we hope that he will again one day.

So there you have it.
This isn't ALL of the calendars that have been authorized by Marvel over the years.
Since the mid 1990's there have been MANY. Some years would see the release of several simultaneously; many being dedicated to a single hero or team property (i.e.; Spider-Man, X-Men, Hulk, etc...).

Obviously, I had no need to acquire those for my collection, as Doctor Strange wasn't featured.
There were several generic "Marvel Universe" calendars released, many in the same styles and formats (by the same publishers as these above), but again, no Doc; No interest.

There are still multiple calendars being manufactured and released every year.
Sadly, every year, I scour the sales racks, and see no glimpse of Doctor Strange.

He is unfortunately out of the upper echelon of Marvel heroes, and as such, is not prime for mass market media.

Perhaps, if he has a film released... then TIMES will change!


Next; we'll be looking at EVERY. SINGLE. PAGE. and image from the 1980 Doctor Strange calendar (briefly seen in the previous post - in Part I of this series.)

Check back again "in the future" for Part III of "Time Warp"
- The Occult World of Doctor Strange Calendar -


Howard Hallis said...

Once again you amaze me with your attention to detail Sanctum. It's nice to see Dr. Strange items I have never seen before. Beautiful!

Unknown said...

Seconded - thanks for all this work!

Anonymous said...

Lot of great art in those calendars, especially the Michael Golden MU poster

~P~ said...

Thanks guys, for the kind words.

You're correct, however... a lot of work.
(and I'm not done yet!)


Lightning... the Michael Golden poster isn't in any of the calendars.
I was merely showing how Arthur Adams' 1995 calendar cover drawing was an homage to the Golden poster.

My apologies if there was any confusion.
I'd hate to see someone hunt down and buy one of these oldies looking for something that's not there.


And Howard...
When I can surprise you, I know I've done my job.

Now, get hunting!


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